Lee M. Bartow (Theologian, Annihilvs Power Electronix)
1. What are your top five albums that were released in 2017? (In order 1-5)
To be perfectly honest, the past year is an almost overwhelming blur. I concentrated mainly on releases on my own label and the work of my friends, and didn't pay much attention to a great swathe of other artists.
Here is a list of the first five releases I put out in 2017 (in order of appearance):
- Longpig - Shrine of the Longpig
- Husere Grav - Entropy & Illusion
- Sire - Evocation of the Serpent
- The Holy Circle - s/t
- CASAS - s/t
2. What band did you discover in 2017 (can be a brand new band or an older band) that had an impact on your life? What made them significant?
As a label owner, I have felt a sense of duty to help put the work of other artists into the world. I started 2017 off with a very ambitious release schedule, and while I did not get everything out this year that I'd planned to, it was nevertheless an extremely productive period. The debut full-length by THE HOLY CIRCLE, the new "dark pop" band from Terence Hannum of LOCRIAN, fell in my lap this year, and I proudly released it in June (thank you for your review), and had them perform at the Autumn Electronix Festival, which I presented at the Garner Arts Center in October.
CASAS, another act that I released this year, came to my attention unexpectedly, and it was a truly exciting moment for me. To celebrate the release of their self-titled cassette, they performed at our July 1 event at The Silent Barn alongside Annihilvs labelmates SIRE.
3. How will you remember 2017? (In terms of music)
Disappointing. Extremely challenging. I started the 2017 with a sense of renewed purpose, but that did not last. While I presented multiple events, including one celebrating the 20th anniversary of my label, and released several albums, as the year has progressed, I have been pulling back from "the scene" because I've come to feel like a dinosaur and a pariah among outcasts. I have latterly been disturbed by the co-opting of what was once considered the underground by more "mainstream" concerns, such as paying thousands of dollars for PR, leaves a lot of great artists without spotlights shone on them because they lack those same resources, despite the fantasist notion of the Internet making everything an even field. After two decades of working shitty day jobs to finance my activities, it's been disheartening to witness the undoing of what was once a meritocracy. I have put tremendous effort and heart into these endeavours, and it all seems so pointless to me now. I no longer care to go to shows or buy new music. I've long considered all of this to be the only true source of meaning in my life. I admit I'm currently at a loss for what to do next. Burning as many bridges as possible occasionally seems to be a logical step.
4. What can we look forward to from you in 2018?
The first 2018 release from Annihilvs will be a remixed/remastered CD-R/digital reissue of the THEOLOGIAN cassette, Forced Utopia which was recently put out by Danvers State Recordings, the label run by Andy Grant of THE VOMIT ARSONIST. He and I are also working on a collaborative cassette for Cloister Recordings, called "he Icy Bleakness of Things.
I've still got several releases planned from this year, and previous years, to get into the world. But, as I've become more disenchanted, I wonder whether there's any real point in any of it.
Something needs to change, or I'm going to simply give up.
5. What records are you looking forward to most in 2018?
I'm planning to release an utterly, profoundly beautiful album by BONEDUST, which is a project of Pippi Zornoza (formerly of VVLTVRE, currently of RECTRIX), and Chrissy Wolpert, who is the director of THE ASSEMBLY OF LIGHT CHOIR, and frequent contributor to THE BODY.
6. For most, 2017 will be remembered as a year of political and social conflict. How does that cultural atmosphere influence your own music or artistic life?
At the beginning of the year, I instituted the slogan INDUSTRIAL MUSIC IS PROTEST MUSIC as a point from which to move forward, but time and circumstance led me to become overwhelmed by ennui. 2017 was a year when my slow withdrawal from "the scene" began to accelerate, especially toward the latter end of the year. I have struggled with chronic and persistent depression for the entirety of my adult life, and I think the shift in our culture and the realities of contemporary politics has had a discernible impact on my ability to feel hopeful or enthusiastic about the future. This would, in the past, have been a motive for pushing onward with an artistic agenda in opposition to this wave, which it did in the beginning of the year, but as 2017 has drawn to a close I have become more overwhelmed with a sense of futility. I've recently had to cut a lot of toxic people out of my creative life who either didn't share my values, or my creative goals, and it's taken a toll.